The Benefits Of Price Transparency Are Overstated. The Benefits Of An Accessible Doctor You Trust Can’t Be Stated.

Maybe you heard something like this on the radio recently: A mom takes her new baby to the emergency department on a weekend because she thinks her daughter might have a urinary tract infection. She’s right, but regulations say the baby has to stay in the hospital for two days to ensure the infection clears. Afterwards, the mom is surprised by and concerned about a $7,000 hospital bill for the baby’s care.

The reporter says that since more companies are purchasing high-deductible health plans for their employees, it’s increasingly important that people can find out the price of their care so they can make better choices.

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MUST FOLLOW_The Self Pay Patient Blog

Sean Parnell reached out to us recently, expressing support of our cash-for-service model of primary care. We’re glad he did. Turns out he runs a blog called The Self Pay Patient and it’s a helpful resource for “tens of millions of Americans who are either uninsured, have high-deductible health insurance, or just want to escape from bureaucratic medicine…”

His blog entries are the basis of a book he’s currently writing that will be “a ‘users guide’ to self-pay medicine, explaining in detail how to find doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and other providers of health care goods and services…”

He recently wrote about a patient who needed knee surgery and benefitted indirectly from cash-only medicine. The first hospital he visited wanted an out of pocket payment (he had a “good” insurance plan) that was MORE than the cost of the whole operation at the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, a cash-only facility. In the end, the patient used price transparency to negotiate and save about $3,000 on his procedure.


Once more we see the power of the market, and price transparency, in making healthcare more readily available. We believe it’s worth writing down — every direct primary care practice and every cash-only hospital that offers competitive, cost-saving procedures, treatments, prescriptions, etc. puts pressure on the insurance companies to treat clientele more fairly. Cheers to Mr. Parnell’s blog for keeping a record of these establishments and spreading awareness of their benefits.

You CAN Charge $546 for Six Liters of Saltwater in America

You CAN Charge $546 for Six Liters of Saltwater in America

When we first read this headline, we thought it was a loose allegory, something akin to selling ice to an eskimo. But no, this headline is to be taken literally. The New York Times ran this article following up on absurd charges billed to a group of tourists who came down with severe food poisoning. According to the Times, “Some of the patients’ bills would later include markups of 100 to 200 times the manufacturer’s price, not counting separate charges for ‘IV administration.’ And on other bills, a bundled charge for ‘IV therapy’ was almost 1,000 times the official cost of the solution.”

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NPR Exposes Top Medicare Prescribers Who Rake In Speaking Fees From Drugmakers

The blood pressure drug Bystolic hit the market in 2008. It faced a slew of cheap generics, so its maker, Forest Laboratories, needed to devise a plan. They launched a promotional assault targeted straight at the people scribbling on the pads: prescribing doctors. “It flooded the offices of health professionals with drug reps, and it hired doctors to persuade their peers to choose Bystolic — even though the drug hadn’t proved more effective than competitors,” says NPR in a damning exposé that includes some shocking numbers.

According to the article, at least 17 of the top 20 Bystolic prescribers in Medicare’s prescription drug program in 2010 have been paid by Forest to deliver promotional talks. And they together received $284,700 for speeches and more than $20,000 in meals in 2012. And it’s not just us over here at Atlas MD going, hmmm, I bet they prescribed a lot of the beta blocker Bystolic. NPR reports that in the 2012 fiscal year, sales of Bystolic reached $348 million, almost double its total from two years earlier.

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More News Outlets Reporting About Backlash of Hospital Charges

Liz Kowalczyk of The Boston Globe is adding more tinder to the price transparency fire. Her recent article follows patients who are angered by surprise surcharges tacked on to their hospital bills for doctor visits and who are starting to challenging these fees — at times refusing to pay outright!

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Patient complains about being overcharged thousands of dollars by a Napa hospital for medical laboratory tests

Dark Daily published an article saying a community hospital charged Kathy Meinhardt inpatient prices for clinical laboratory testing when she was a walk-up customer. As a result, Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa Valley has found itself centered within a media flare-up.

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